tv Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Dunford Talks to Washington Post CSPAN December 6, 2018 4:02pm-5:39pm EST
because as far as i know, he's the only candidate or potential candidate for 2020 that believes that we need to invest in our masses, our general population. other countries, both communist countries and socialist countries, they all invest in the population. they invest in their population health. that's the general population. not the top 15%. you know, they can afford to go out and get the best health care, the best education, but all of the large industrial i industrialized -- fred ryan, publisher. today we're very fortunate to be joined by two senior leaders from the department of defense to discuss security challenges that america faces in the 21st century. as one of our speakers, general joseph dunford observed earl yer in this year the fundamental nature of war remains unchanged. what is new are the evolving technologies and battlefields
like outer space and cyber space, that have dramatically increased the speed and complexity of modern warfare. as a result, the united states faces unprecedented threats to its security from many nations and from terrorists and combatants who follow the flag of no nation. this afternoon, we'll learn about these new dangers and about the technologies and strategies the united states can imemployee to employ to defeat them. before we begin, i'd like to thank today's presenting sponsor, northrop grumman, and the vulsonos school of engineering at george mason university. it's my pleasure to introduce the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general dunford and the "washington post's" david ignatius. [ applause ] >> thanks, david. thank you, general. >> it's a great pleasure for all of us at the woe"washington pos to have general dunford with us today for this conversation.
as in all our conversations here, we invite the audience in the room and streaming to send us any questions to t the #postlive. just to say a word about general dunford, to me, he's been a symbol of continuity in h our country in two ways i want to mention. first, he was initially appointed as chairman in 2015 under president obama. he was reappointed in may by president trump for a second two-year term. so there's that first continuity that really is a symbol of what endures in our country. secondly, i note every few days, it seems, that general du nford is talking with his counterparts around the world from allied countries, from potential adversaries and this continuity
of military-to-military contacts, again, reminds me of what's continuous. what has nothing to do with the daily ups and downs that we're often reporting in the newspapers. so, general dunford, thank you. >> thanks. >> for coming. i want to begin with an area that you have focused on with the chiefs, with the administration, and that's looking anew at our peer competitors. the countries who would challenge us in renewed great power competition. obviously, russia and china. and i want to take each of those in turn and start with russia and the events of several weeks ago that got all of our attention in which the russians intercepted and captured three ukrainian vessels in the kerch strait in the area off the ukraine coast, off crimea.
if you watched the tapes that were disseminated of that, you heard the russian captain of one of these boats screaming and cursing as he drove his vessel right into the ukrainian tug with an enormous crash. and i couldn't help but worry watching that about russia's willingness to take risks. so i want to ask you from a military standpoint, how did you read what happened in that instant? what did it tell you about the russian military, about president putin's willingness to use power, and what do you think we should do about it? >> sure. i think it says a lot about russia's respect of international norms and standards, and in what took place in the sea of azov is consistent with a pattern of behavior that really goes back to georgia, the crimea, then the donbas in the ukraine. and what we refer to this as, you know, competition that falls short of armed conflict where
what the russians are really doing is testing the international community's resolve in enforcing the rules that exist. and in this case, clear violations of sovereignty have taken place and that doesn't by in any means indicate that this should be a military response, but i think the international community certainly has got to respond diplomatically, economically, or in a security space or russia will continue to do what they've been doing now over the last couple years. >> so there have been calls in the aftermath of this for providing naval weaponry to the ukrainians who obviously were very vulnerable in this incident. the administration decided to provide javelin antitank weapons to deal with vulnerabili vulnerabilities. what do you think from a military standpoint of having those kinds of missiles? >> first of all, our
relationship with ukraine is focused in two areas. one, we're assisting them in reforming their defense. i'm speaking in a military dimension. and the second is we have equipped them with capabilities that allow them to defend themselves. there is not, so we don't confuse the two issues, there is not a discussion ongoing right now about a military dimension in response to the sea of azov. obviously, my job in uniform is to make sure that the president has options available should he decide to respond with military force, but there's no -- been no military response, nor has there been a discussion about a military response to the sea of azov in public. and, again, our focus with the ukraine is we believe that the ukraine sovereignty is something that's sacrosanct and we've assisted them in defending their sovereignty. >> you talk often, as i indicated earlier, with your russian counterpart general garasmof. i'm curious if you've had conversations since this incident, about this incident,
to try to establish some understandings, rules of the road, has that happened? >> no, i haven't -- i do speak to him fairly regularly. we met three times since i've been in my assignment. we've communicated many, many times by telephone. a couple things i would say about that, one is the nature of our conversation is designed to mitigate the miscalculation with russia and in event of a crisis help manage a crisis, and you referred to in your opening comments, david, syria, and we obviously have spoken a great deal about deacconfliction in syria, and ensuring that incidents at sea or incidents in the air don't precipitatie a cris crisis. rules of the road that pertain to our forces at sea and forces in the air. i haven't spoken specifically about this incident. typically, were i to communicate on an incident like this, it would be to deliver u.s. policy and right now, that, you know, whatever messages we're delivering are being delivered by our political leadership. >> if this audience could listen in on one of your conversations
with general garasamof, we would be reassured there's more stability and continuity in this relationship than it sometimes seems? >> sure. the one thing i would say to the audience is we've worked very hard to ensure that our relationship doesn't become politicized. i think we're both very aware of the nature of our political relationship right now between the two countries. and we both are committed to maintaining lines of communication. i think his perspective is similar to mine in terms of the risk of miscalculation and making sure that we have open lines of communication and to the extent that we can some degree of transparency that would mitigate the risk and miscalculation. i think that while i have never spoken publicly about the substance of the phone call and one thing you should be comforted by is that we conclude each phone call with a commitment to each other, not to publicly discuss the nature of our phone call, and i'm now three years plus into this relationship and never once has
that been violated. in fact, we inadvertently violated it once benwhen i shar the information with somebody else who shared it and it went public. the only violation of our commitment not to share information was something that we did inadvertently. i would just say about general garasamof, he's a military professional. we clearly have reconciling the political differences between 2005 countries. in terms of military commitments, discussion, trying to do the best we can to support our political leadership and give them the space necessary to work through some tough issues, i think we have corrected to stability with that line of communication and certainly in syria, without going into too much detail, we can later if you want to, the communications between general garasamof and myself have been very important for us to deaconflict operations in syria. that's allowed us in a very
complicated, complex battle space, it's allowed us to prosecute the campaign against isis while deconflicting with russian forces on the ground and obviously regime forces writ large. >> i should, just to take this moment to ask you about syria, are we now finally after this long nightmare of war, heading toward some stabilization of syria? do you see that ahead? >> sure. well, you know, we go back to the beginning in the fall of 2015 and you certainly were paying very close attention to it during a particular time. in the fall of 20 is15, i think we'd be having a different conversation about isis. we've reduced the flow of foreign fighters in and out of syria and iraq significantly since that time and they have access to far less resources and i think i would argue as well, harder to measure, but the
narrative has less credibility than it did back in 2015. so they hold less physical ground. their narrative is probably resonating a bit less. i am not at all complacent about the work that remains to be done. so we've largely cleared except for the last vestiges of isis in the euphrates river valley, we largely cleared the physical manifestation of syria. that doesn't mean there are fighters in syria, the work that needs to be done, the word you used, stabilization, that means we have to complete the training of local forces that can prevent isis from coming back and in conjunction with our state department fpartners, make sure there's effective governance. i'm not talking about reconstruction. talking about basic water, sewage, jobs, power, those kinds of things in order for us to say the area has been stabilized. i'd say we're well along in clearing isis from the ground they held in syria and still have a lot of work to do in
terms of the stabilization phase. >> just a final question of special interest to me because i've been lucky enough to travel with our special forces in eastern syria a number of times. how much longer do you expect they'll stay there? we have the sense that something under 2,000 special operations forces are still in eastern syria. that they're there on an indeterminate, unspecified timeline. what would you say about how much longer you think? >> yeah, the one thing, i've probably gained some humility over the last few years about projecting timelines, and so i won't do that. i will give you some idea the order of magnitude of the work to be done. we estimate, for example, about 35,000 to 40,000 local forces have to be trained and equipped in order to provide stability. we're probably somewhere along the line of 20% through the training of those forces. so we've trained and equipped
forces that have cleared, combat forces, syrian democratic forces, a balance of arab and kurdish forces who have done the majority of the fighting in syria against isis. but with regard to stabilization, we still have a long way to go and so i'd be reluctant to affix a time. i would highlight, though, that our military campaign is designed to do two things. one is to defeat isis and that includes the stabilization that we just discussed, and the other is to provide support to secretary pompeo in a diplomatic efforts that he has to resolve the syrian civil war and that is through a geneva process, the united nations geneva process and so our presence in syria is associated not only with the isis fight but also in support of the democratic effort of secretary pompeo and that's why it's difficult for me to speculate as to how long we might be there. but certainly, the conditions changed a great deal over the last tlohree years. i think we are certainly at a point where we can say the presence we have in syria right now is sustainable and can be --
and can be adjusted based on conditions. >> my takeaway from that, they're not leaving any time soon, at least you don't have that prospect -- >> no, that's right. >> friends of syrian stability is probably good news. let me ask you a final question about russia, and that involves the announced u.s. intention to leave the inf treaty and the concerns i think are widely shared that we may be heading into a new arms race with russia in streejategic weapons. i want to ask you whether you think, again, as the president's chief military adviser, that it would be useful to have some discussion, again, of arms control that can fill in the gachs in t ga gaps in the inf treaty. should we think again about what arms control dialogue we have? >> that's a great question. first what i would say,
conceptually, i believe the arms control agreements that we've had in the past have contributed to strategic stability. i think there can be no doubt about that. the regime of arms control agreements that really began in earnest in the 1980s have provided a degree of strategic ability. the issue is in order to have strategic stability as an outcome of arms control, both parties have to be compliant with the agreement. and we have now for three or four years highlighted russia's noncompliance with the inf treaty, and then secretary pompeo this week at nato indicated that within 60 days, we will suspend our compliance with the inf treaty unless russia comes into compliance. he emphasized our strongest desire is that russia does come into compliance and, again, this a message that has been delivered fairly consistently now over a couple years. we've been public about it. we've been public with our allies about the concerns of th
be best if russia would comply with the inf which would set the conditions for a broader conversation about other arms control agreements to include the extension of s.t.a.r.t. i will not obviously make this decision. i'll make recommendations, but it's very difficult for me to envision progress in extending s.t.a.r.t., too, as an example, if the foundation of that is noncompliance with the inf treaty. so i think working our way through the inf treaty, bringing russia back into compliance, ought to be what's in all of our interest and we can begin to have a conversation about mechanisms that can contribute to strategic stability in the 21st century, much like it did in the 20th century. conditions have changed. weapons have changed. some capabilities have been fielded or weren't even envisioned web tenvision ed when the current regime of arms control was put if place. those are difficult issues in and of themselves and if you don't have a foundation of compliance with yesterday's treaties, it's difficult to talk about tomorrow.
>> is there still time for that discussion of how russia could meet our compliance concerns? still time for that to take place? . this train is about to leave. what do you think? >> secretary pompeo's presentation in brussels, similar to what took place in the g20, was designed as one last effort to afford the russians the opportunity to become compliant. so he didn't say we were suspending our compliance with the treaty. he said within 60 days we'll suspend our compliance if russia doesn't come into compliance. i think also there was an effort there to make sure as many voices speaking to russia right now, not the least of which is the voice of nato as a whole, the 29 nations of nato, all highlighting for russia the concerns about noncompliance with the inf and the implications for european security. >> so let's turn to china, the other peer competitor.
general, i have the feeling that when we think about china, in some ways we're thinking for the first time in our modern history about a genuine peer in the future. a country that's, as rich as we are, that's as technologically sophisticated as we are, a country that really can challenge us in a way that, frankly, russia and the soviet union never entirely could except for their nuclear weapons. i want to ask you, as you think about china, describe for us what kind of military capability you think they're trying to build. do they want to challenge us globally? do they want to challenge us regionally? how do you think about this? >> sure. sure. first, when we look at ourselves, the u.s. military, we think there are two areas, main areas thattive give us a compee advantage. one is a network of allies and partners we built up since world war ii. the other has been the historic ability to project power when, where necessary, to advance our
interests. and in that latter area, which is specifically the military dimension of our source of strength, we have been largely uncontested over the last few decades. that changed. that changed in the past decade. i would argue that china, we spoke about russia a minute ago, but both china and russia studied what we did in desert shield, desert storm. certainly took a hard look after what we did throughout the campaigns of the late 1990s and certainly looked at what we did in 2003 in our ability to project vast amounts of equipment, material, people, around the world relatively quickly. so they have focused on denying the united states the ability to project power into the pacific and then operate freely across what we call all domains. that's pentagon speak for sea, air, land, space, and cyberspace. i thing what's fair to say, it really get at the heart of your question, is china has developed capabilities in all of those domains that challenge us and
the outcome of challenging us across the all domains is challenging our ability to project power in support of our interests and alliances in the region, and so what we have to do on the military side is, we believe that conventional deterrence has rested on that ability to project power when and where necessary to achieve our interests. the strength of our alliances has depended on that in the sense that our allies know that we can respond, we can meet our alliance commitments because of our ability to project power then operate freely once we get to that area. so i think from a military perspective, the way i would frame the problem is, one, it's our responsibility to develop capabilities that assure our ability to project power and then operate freely across all those domains. china, in large debates about how much china is spending in their capability development, and with the recognition that it's fairly opaque, both china's fiscal -- the investments they make as well as the capabilities they develop, i think what's not
in dispute in over the last ten years, they have significantly advanced what tin the pentagon, the ability of the united states to move into an area and again operate freely once we get there. that's a critical element, again, of deterrence and then our ability to respond the event that deterrence would fail. i would also remind everyone that's listening we have five treaty allies in the pacific, these are allies we have a hard commitment to their security, so when we talk about projecting power and being allowed freely across all domains, what we're really talking about is our ability to meet the requirements of those five treaties. >> just to drill down on this, when you think about the future, when you read about chinese efforts to build port facilities in pakistan or jabudi, this place or that, do you envision, let's say, a chinese navy that will seek to be a global bluewater navy, like what the
united states developed, or do you think that their ambitions are different? that we shouldn't see them in terms of competing with us in each of these spheres? >> sure. i mean, i would lean toward the former, not the latter. despite the fact that china has been opaque in terms of what they're spending on defense and what specific capabilities they may be investing in at any given time. they've been very transparent about their aspirations. if we listen to xi jinping last year at the communist party committee, he was pretty clear about wanting china to be a global power with global power projection capability. and among the capabilities they're developing are aircraft carriers which would certainly indicate a desire to project power beyond their territorial waters. >> so one particular area of potential chinese power is at the frontier of military technology and that's artificial
intelligence. >> sure. >> all of the systems, the autonomous weapons systems, the algorithms that will drive warfare, that the chinese seem particularly eager to dominate. you mentioned xi jinping's speech last fall. that was at the center. >> sure was. >> this idea that china will command the technological heights in the future. i want to ask you to talk a little bit about how you see a.i. transforming your business of military -- >> sure. >> -- power and whether you worry that we're not doing enough, given its apparent importance to get our focus set on meeting this chinese challenge. >> first of all, when i -- in our profession, one of the areas that's going to really determine future outcomes is speed of decisionmaking. and so a.i. is certainly relevant to speed of decisionmaking. if you think about cyberspace, a.i. is critical to being able
to implement effective ways of protecting ourselves in cyberspace. if you think about operatie ini an environment -- i spoke earlier, anti-access denial, to be able to operate in a very complex operating environment. man/machine teaming is obviously a critical element. and i don't think it would be an overstatement when we talk about artificial intelligence to say that whoever has a competitive advantage in artificial intelligence and can field systems informed by artificial intelligence could very well have an overall competitive advantage. i mean, i think it may be that important. i don't think it's something we can say definitively at this point, but it's certainly going to inform and be the preponderance of the variables that can go into, hey, who has an overall competitive advantage? a.i. will be a key piece of it. with regard to whether we're doing enough, i'll tell you in this and so many areas, i would never be complacent in telling you that we're doing enough.
you know, we are clearly in a competition for competitive advantage, and without exaggeration, i mean, i can tell you that our overall competitive advantage has reduced over the 10 or 12 years. 10 or 12 years ago, whoever was sitting in my seat, could have said that we are uncontested in all domains, uncontested in our ability to project power when and where necessary. i can't say that today. what i can say is that we can defend the homeland and our way of life, we can meet our alliance commitments today and we have an aggregate competitive advantage over any potential adversary. i'm equally confident in saying if we don't change the trajectory that we're on for that ten-year period between about 2002, 2003, to 2015 or 2016, so even maybe a bit more than 10 jeeryears, if we don't change that trajectory, whoever's sitting in my seat five or seven years from now won't be as confident as i am. technologies like artificial intelligence are going to be a
critical element to our ability to have a competitive advantage in the future. and, again, when i benchmark our competitive advantage, i really talk about things like conventional deterrence, our ability to respond effectively if deterrence fails. >> ask you about one of the trickiest parts of this competitive problem going forward. one thing the chinese can command is the very best brainpower in china. >> sure. >> to work on these problems in ways that serve the government. our ably best a.i. company, google, was asked and agreed to be part of a pentagon program called project maven where google computer scientists would write algorithms that would be useful for pentagon war fighters and the employees of google learned of this and rebelled. i think that's the only way to put it. and there was a petition campaign and all of a sudden,
google l decided that because of its employees' unhappiness, they were going to have to back out of project maven. and so i -- just to put it to you simply, what would you say to google l employees if they were watching this streaming? >> sure. >> or employees at microsoft or amazon, for that matter. what would the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff say about the need for this brainpower? >> sure. first thing i'd say in very simple terms, were they all sitting here right now, i'd say, hey, we're the good guys. we are the good guys. and it's inexplicable to me that we would make compromises in order to advance our business interests in china where we know -- where we know that freedoms are restrained, where we know that china will take intellectual property from companies, strip that away, put the companies in the dustbin of history then use that intellectual property for their
own advantage. we know those things are taking place, so it's inexplicable to me that we wouldn't have a cooperative relationship with the private sector. i would also say that if you look at the world order that we've enjoyed since world war ii, and you look at the values that are represented in that world order, we have been arguably the leader of the free world. the free world since world war ii. were we not to have the capability of leading the free world and advancing the values and interests that reflect our country's values and interests and the western world's values and interests, there will be alternatives to create an alternative order. and i'm not sure that the people at google will enjoy a world order that is informed by the norms and standards of russia or china using the two examples that we discussed earlier. so that's what i think i would share with the people at google is that, again, we are the good guys in a sense that we do stand for what's right.
we might make mistakes from time to time, but, you know, our record of standing up for principles of sovereignty, our record of standing up for human rights, our record of standing up for freedom of navigation and access to the global commons, i think is uncontested. if you look at it over the course of 70 years. if you highlight a single incident here or there, you can see where humans have made -- made mistakes. but if you look at it over the course of 70 years, i think it's indisputable what we have stood for. if you believe in what we have stood for over the past 70 years then you need to understand that has only been possible because of the relationship that the u.s. military has enjoyed with industry. and one of the -- i talk about competitive advantages. one of the competitive advantages the u.s. military has enjoyed for decades has been that public/private partnership where we've been able to leverage the full human capital and ideas of american people. if we don't have access to that, we are not going to be competitive. >> that's a pretty stark statement. you're basically saying if that
connection's broken, we cannot compete at the level that we traditionally have known. >> well, at best, we're playing with one hand behind our back, right? i mean, again, if it you believe what i believe, and you look back at our experience in the past, that relationship with industry, the fact that human capital is unleashed in our country, that ideas can rise to the top and we can be out in front, it's not a mistake that academically and intellectually we've led the world, it's because of our form of government, and absent the ability to tap into silicon valley and have those kinds of relationships, we will not have that advantage that we've traditionally enjoyed. i think that's really the point i'm trying to make. >> i want to come closer to home, in fact, right at home, and that's to ask you about the deployment of regular u.s. military troops to the border in november. that was something that -- i guess it was actually late
october. >> right. >> that was a decision that surprised a lot of people, and as we've looked at what those troops have been doing, general, frankly, it looks an awful lot more like a paramilitary set of tasks, the sort of thing that national guard or law enforcement personnel do, than what you ask our uniformed military to do. so i want to ask you why you as chairman thought it was appropriate to go along with that order of -- >> sure. >> -- the president and how much longer this is going to last. >> sure. let me walk back to what problem we're trying to solve. the department of homeland security as the primary responsibility for enforcing the border. department of homeland security indicated to the president they had gaps in their capability. those gaps included engineering capability to reinforce the points of entry. it included rotor wing helicopter support and in some cases fixed-wing aircraft to move their people around and thd
some medical shortfalls and logistic shortfalls. those are all things in the department of defense. we worked very closely with secretary nieljsen to define exactly what capabilities she needed us to provide and then the president gave us a legal order to support the department of homeland security. david, i would tell you that we're at a hurricane, we're at a fire, we routinely provide what are called title 10 forces, active duty u.s. military forces to support the department of homeland security. we go all around the world to respond in the wake of an earthquake, to respond in the wake of a natural disaster, with u.s. military capabilities, to do things that they're not primarily trained or organized and equipped to do but they have the capability and capacity to support. so to me, one, it was a legal order to support the department of homeland security. the mission was absolutely career. the troops had the proper training to execute that m
mission. the rules of engagement were clear to me. so when you ask why was i -- starts with why did i support it? because it was a legal order. and why, you know, why am i not concerned about it is because those things are all in place. i mean, when i look at recommendations to use military forces, it starts with is the mission clear, do our people have the wherewithal to accomplish that mission? that's training and equipment. and are the conditions under which they're operating clear enough for me to provide them guidance on how they should conduct themselves under those conditions? and it met all of those criteria. >> and what i hear you saying, just to close this out, is that you do not have authority as chairman to refuse a lawful order. whatever you may think about that order. >> no, that's right, and i think the american people would not want generals to be making policy decisions and wouldn't want generals to determine when we should use force. you would expect me to provide advice to our political leadership about how to use the
military instrument, you'd expect me to provide advice about the appropriateness of using a military instrument under certain conditions, but if i receive a lawful order, i think the american people would expect me to execute that and i think it'd be problematic were generals to start to make decisions based on one political party or another being in office and saying, i don't really like it and so i'm not going to do that. to me, it comes down to is it a legal order? now, if i had a concern based on principle, you only have really one choice, is to obey a lawful order or to resign. and i can't imagine too many conditions where i would resign if given a lawful order since my code kind of tells me that lance corporals and pfcs and seamen can't resign when they're told what to do if it's a lawful order, and in my own code informed a bit by general marshall in, you know, we all
point to him as kind of one of the north stars of civil military relations, when i look at civil military relations in a democracy, that's kind of where i land. >> i want to turn to another really interesting but also controversial issue and that is the president's desire to create a space force. president trump. this is an area where i have some sympathy with his views, actually. it's felt that the air force wasn't moving fast enough. that we were not responding to challenges in space and so he said, i want to create a new branch of the military. and yoou were in the room when e made this announcement. >> i was. >> as i remember, he looked right at you, you got that, general? he didn't leave any adult -- >> saying i got that. >> so the question i think we all have is where is this all
heading? >> sure. sure. >> we've had kind of an official set of reactions, we're puzzled as to whether you think, the joint staff, thinks you ought to be heading toward something like a corps, forgive me, marine corps, former marine corps commandant, something like the marine corps that would be space but under the air force, as the marines are under the navy. whether you can take space command and shoot some steroids into it and kind of make that work. what are you thinking right now? >> sure. first, let's, if we can, just stipulate that, and if we talk military operations, space is increasingly important and there's no question about that. so the basic what problem are you trying to solve is to make sure that we have the proper organizational construct to deal with space. and there's three main areas in that regard. one is, making sure we most effectively use the capabilities that we have currently fielded. the second problem we're trying to solve is make sure we have
the right organizational construct to develop the capabilities that we need tomorrow. and the third is really the service type functions of training people, recruiting people, retaining people, growing people, all the things that you might associate with a service. so those are the three main elements that we're -- when we look at space, we're trying to solve those three problems. with regard to the first problem, we've already moved out. and we will in 2019 establish a unified command. what that means is, you know, we have what we call functional commands and they're really commands that have global responsibilities. united states strategic command has a nuclear enterprise is one example. united states special operations is another example. united states cyber command is another example. transportation command is another example. each of those commands has a four-star that is responsible, works directly from a command authority's perspective for the secretary of defense, and we do that to elevate those particular
functions to the right level, to make sure that the right voice is there to employ our cape n capabilities and provide advice to the secretary. we will in 2019 elevate space to a unified command. it will be a four-star in charge. that four-star's responsibility will take all of the resident capability that we have inside the department of defense today, uniform military capability, put it under one single l commander, so that we most effectively employ that. the second two problems, the developed capability and come up with the right organizational l construct will result from a legislative proposal that will come from the president to the congress and the outcome will result on the dialogue that takes place between the president and the congress on what is the right approach, what is the right organizational construct, after those second two issues? the first issue is a responsibility i was given, we're moving out, we have already, you know, kind of moved behind the scenes to develop
that organization. we've conducted two tabletop exercises to inform how we'll do that. and we'll have a major exercise in february and march to refine our understanding of what space command will look like and what the right command relationships will be and so forth. and then that legislative proposal i would imagine would come out some time in 2019. again, that will be a legislative proposal from the president to the congress, and i imagine in subsequent budget years is when it will be addressed. >> so really the details of this are still basically to be announced subject to the president and congress making a joint decision. >> that's correct. >> until you get that, it's going to, as you said -- >> on the second -- until we get that, it isn't that we're not doing anything. there's already an organization inside the united states air force that's responsible for capability development in space. that's already being taken care of. united states air force and army for that matter all have
components that have space capabilities. so we're we're talks aboing abo would we change that because we view it as a more optimal arrangement to develop capabilities form and to manage our space force, space people? and i think everybody has probably concluded that we can make some changes in those two areas to be better. and to make sure we're out in front of space as an emerging separate domain, if you will, war-fighting domain. again, one of the five. and you've seen some of the options. so i'd probably just tease you with a few of them. look, you can establish a separate part of space with a separate service inside of that departme department. so a completely separate organization. >> i think the president wants new uniforms. i mean -- >> you can create a separate service inside the department of the air force as a second approach to that. so there's many ways to do that
and i think what we'll see is a legislative proposal. the vice president is chairing the space council. this issue is being discussied n the context of the space council and like i said -- so fair to say there's some details remaining, but i wouldn't want to leaf you with nothing's happened since the president's speech. quite a bit as happened to include our progress in standing up a separate command to make sure we're most effectively employing the capabilities we have today. >> we only have about five minutes left and there are a couple important things i want to get to. one of them is saudi arabia. here at the "washington post," as everyone knows, we feel deeply the loss of our colleague and friend, jamal khashoggi, who was murdered in istanbul in october. since then, there has been a lot of turbulence, to put it mildly, in the u.s./saudi relationship.
and i'm wondering whether that will effect the u.s./saudi military relationship and specifically, general, i want to ask you about the war in yemen. >> sure. >> and what your own military advice is as members of congress seek your views, members of the administration, that that war is a humanitarian nightmare? i'm just stating what everybody knows. it may get worse. but what kind of advice are you offering? first about the relationship with saudi arabia, second what to do in yemen. >> yeah, no, no with regard to saudi arabia, i mean, saudi arabia is no different than any other country in sense that the military-to-military relationship we have with a given country is completely informed by our policy, so there's been no change in our policy with regard to saudi arabia that has informed our military-to-military relationship to date, and i would, and i mean this sincerely, express my condole e condolences both to the "post"
and his family. i've seen his family many times on television and read what they have written in the "post" and other periodicals. so if the policy changes, our military-to-military relationship changes. we have historically had a strong military-to-military relationship with saudi arabia. it has been historically a fact that saudi arabia's contribution to security and stability in the middle east is important, and so we have approached our milita military-to-military relationship with that in mind. with regard to yemen, i think it's probably important to clarify, u.s. military operations in yemen are focused on two things. isis and al qaeda. we are not a participant in the civil war, nor are we supporting one side of the civil war or the other. my advice has been to continue to support martin griffiths. the good news is there's an ongoing discussion in sweden this week which is, you know, hope springs eternal, but
arguably one of the more important diplomatic developments in a few years with regard to yemen is the parties are actually in sweden and there's a framework that gives us some reasonable expectation of an outcome that advances the situation in yemen to some degree. but, again, i would continue to recommend that we are not a participant in the civil war in yemen and remain an honest broker, if you will, with the ability to contribute to a diplomatic solution in yemen. there is not a military solution. you've covered that as much as anybody has. there's not a purely military solution in yemen, as just like there isn't any complex c contingency of the sort in yemen. so our military advice is focus on al qaeda and isis and making sure we have the partnerships in the region to make sure we can disrupt what has been over the last few years the most insidious strain of al qaeda, which has been al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, and obviously concerned about isis there as we are elsewhere. >> there have been calls increasingly from congress to
cut off military sales to saudi arabia. again, strictly from a military standpoint, what would be the consequences of that in terms of regional security, in your view? >> yeah, i mean, i think that it's fair to say that saudi arabia would be less capable without access to u.s. technology and capability. i will not weigh in on whether or not we ought to do that because the military dimension in this case is but one of the considerations that our nation is going to have to make when determining whether or not to continue to sell weapons to saudi arabia. right now, there's been no change in our policy, so that's what we're doing. but i do understand the debate that's taking place with regard to whether or not we'll do that in the future. and, again, most of the considerations are very important, but they're not military considerations. >> so i have one last question, and some ways it's probably the hardest one. and that's afghanistan. this is a war that's been going on now for 17 years.
you were in afghanistan earlier this year, and i think you said that you thought we were making progress. we have just been through a period in which the cost in american lives has seemed to spike up again. there are efforts under way to try to find some negotiated settlement of the conflict. but at what point, general dunford, do you -- would you say, as chairman, it's time to stop putting american soldiers' lives at risk in afghanistan and begin to draw that down? what -- in your mind, i know you don't like timetables, but i'm sure there is a point at which mia military commander says that's it, we're not going to spend another american life in this -- in a particular conflict. >> look, it's a fair question. it's a good question.
and certainly, this week, having lost five soldiers in in the past two weeks, a question that weighs heavily on all of our minds and it isn't that we don't every day think about that. what i would say about afghanistan, we got to go back on a fundamental assumption, and this is an assumption i make. we can argue this assumption but it's an assumption i make and it's informed by the intelligence. were we not to put the pressure on al qaeda, isis, and other groups in the region that we are putting on today, it is our assessment that in a period of time, their capability would reconstitute and they have, today, the intent and they in the future would have the capability to do what we saw on 9/11. so when i look at afghanistan, it starts with that assumption in mind. so, again, people can argue that assumption. so, my -- what problem am i trying to solve has less to do with security and stability in afghanistan than it does first and foremost with making recommendations for the deployment of military force
that protects the american people, the home larnland, and allies. so that's where we start. it's my judgment that the presence that we've had in afghanistan has, in fact, disrupted the enemy's ability to reconstitute, impose enemy's abo reconstitute and pose a threat to us. and we assess this probably for those that don't pay close attention to afghanistan on a regional basis there are 20 trained groups operating south of the area. so the question to me is not when we should leave. i believe we have enduring interests in south asia and we will have an enduring economic presence, an enduring diplomatic presence in south asia. today my recommendations on the character of our presence are informed by my assessment of the threat in the region and the level of effort that is required to disrupt threats to the
homeland. and were the afghan forces capable on their own of dealing with isis and al-qaeda and were we to have a political reconciliation which is our long-term instate in afghanistan which would set the conditions for us to just our posture i think all of us would be happy. but in my judgment today in order to achieve our political objectives the force on the ground, the level of assistance we're providing, the capabilities we're providing afghans to take the fight to the taliban are necessary for one piece of our strategy, which is military pressure. the theory of the case in afghanistan is we will put sufficient political pressure, sufficient social pressure and sufficient military pressure on the taliban so they will reconcile an afghan owned,
afghan reconciliation process. what i said was that with regard to political pressure, the recent elections were another element in terms of being positive in putting political pressure on the taliban. social pressure i was encouraged by the fact that indonesia in pakistan and in saudi arabia had issued fatwas that truly i think advanced the case of the afghan government. and the third piece was i believe with the changes we made in the southeast asia strategy and the approach nato and our partners took and the fact we were willing to provide resources to support the afghan defense security forces through 2024, which was a decision made at the nato meeting last summer, what i said was that in my judgment particularly with some of the initiatives on the diplomatic track the pressure on the taliban was moving in the
right direction. and we were seeing for the first time certainly in many, many years we were seeing some opportunities to initiate that afghan owned, afghan led reconciliation process. i am very measured in terms of making predictions about where we are in that process. i think anybody that has studied negotiations know you never really know where you are in a negotiation until it's over. so there's plenty of work to be done in regard to an afghan owned, afghan led reconciliation process. but to bring to bear that political, social, and military pressure is necessary. i have not recommended we leave afghanistan, because again ibin my judgment leaving afghanistan would not only create instability in south asia but in my judgment would give terrorist groups the space to plan again the american people, the homeland and our allies. and that really is the problem we're trying to solve.
i will tell you for those critical of what we're doing, my level of confidence, if i had all the answers when i was second lieutenant was up here. and my level of confidence based on my experience today is way down here. if someone has a better idea than we have right now which is to continue support the afghans and continue to put pressure on those terrorists groups in the region, i'm certainly open to dialogue on that. >> great conversation. i'll be back in a few minutes for a discussion with the darpa director steven walker. but for now we'll move onto the next portion of our program. before we do that, please join me in thanking our terrific speaker. >> thanks, david.
>> good afternoon. my name is sarah allison and i'm a program manager in the cyber intelligence missions solution division. they join me to talk about what we can do together across government academia and industry to really win the critical war with cyber talent. on the battlefield digital merges with air, sea, land and
space to create a complex and domain called cyberspace. across all of those domains it's a proven partner to our government on programs paramount to the success of the national security for over 80 years. and we partner every day with forces, with government, with academia and other leaders in the industry to develop a multi domain and greater capabilities created for our warfares and defense of the nation. but the cyber battlefield and rapidly expanding and responding beyond the tradition borders of war. cyber threats are becoming more common, more sophisticated and their ability to disrupt our daily lives is unprecedented. and the ability to protect our nation and our allies in cyberspace is increasingly challenged based on a worldwide shortage in technical talent especially cyber talent. global predictions suggest there will be 3.5 million unfilled
cyber jobs by 2021. as government, military and society in general become increasingly dependent on government technology experts agree that a skilled cyber work force is essential to success not just on the cyber battlefield but for our economic security. what are they doing today to be ready for the future requirements for a cyber work force? >> so cyber security is what i call the ultimate team support. it requires collaboration, communication, sharing of data and all of that in a rapid way to be successful in delivering capabilities to our war fighters who defend our nation and our allies. and we do that today, but we need more people as part of our cyber work force.
and we recognize that same kind of collaboration in working together to solve the problem of the need for cyber professionals is something that's going to require that same kind of teamwork to get at that problem. we recognized that a long time ago, and we started investing in and working with partners to create the opportunity to grow more talent. and that included working with colleges and universities but also high school, and even elementary school students to motivate them and inspire them to seek jobs and seek a future in stem and computer science. so some of our partners have been folks like the air force association as we work with them on the sieblcyber patriot progr which has grown to 5,000 teams, it's a really hands on competition around cyber defense. so that population of students
has grown over many years. it's also grown globally. so that kind of program also exists in the u.k. and in australia. we've taken on partnerships with others at a higher level of academic partnership with universities. for example our partnership with george mason, and our whole work on developing a cyber security under graduate program that produces experts who know how to defend large scale infrastructure systems. things like the grid, water treatment programs and facilities. certainly something that's important for our whole nation's security. and then finally we look at partnerships to gain innovation to bring that to bear for our missions. and so we work on developing and maturing technology through
things like the cyber incubator program with the intention of translating and leveraging that capability over time in the federal marketplace. those are just a few. >> it really is exciting looking at the future. i've been privileged recently to meet some of those students from the university of maryland, actually, and i'm looking forward to interacting with them and the middle school age kids when they come to join me in the cyber work force. but we also have fierce competition today from throughout the public and private sectors for cyber talent. how do we attract and retain a robust pipeline of mission ready cyber professionals now? >> yeah, that's a good question. so as you said the cyber market and talent market is hypercomppetitive right now. folks who have those skills have
tons of choices. and as was discussed in the earlier segment it's really important for folks in our industry, private sector and public sector to understand what differentiates us and what can attract that talent to us. from our perspective at our company we find that our mission and our culture really are those important differentiators. it's important the talent we're recruiting understand the importance of the national security mission, they understand the diversity of that mission, the challenges of that mission, how complex and challenging those problems are. and they also understand that we're at the cutting edge of a ton of technologies. it's an incredibly exciting industry to work in. that mission is something that's often understood and really challenges those employees who stay with us and succeed with us. on top of our mission, though, it's also the culture and the work environment. sometimes when people think about large companies and you think about government, they think about bureaucracy in
silos, they think about people that may not be as diverse as even the population you see here. we're really proud when we think about our work force that wave really shattered stereotypes in terms of who is in our industry. we have an amazing diverse work force. we're nationally known for our strong support of women, people of color, veterans, millennials, people with disabilities and the lgbtq community in our work force. we come in all shapes and sizes and we're incredibly creative. and that matters. how we work together, the work environment is also important, particularly as we bring new people into our work force. collaboration, agility, busting through silos and barriers. we can offer them those opportunities. and finally as an employer it's always important to pay people well and give them benefits.
that's what folks look for as a bottom line. but what's equally important and what things -- organizations like ours can do is to support employees in their career growth over the long haul. so as an employer we for instance offer tuition assistance. we help our employees get undergr undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and certifications. and finally we have very robust rotational programs that encourage both entry level employees and experienced employees to try out and experience the breadth and the depth of our missions and our offerings. all those things taken together for us are making a difference. it's a challenging environment. you have to be on your toes. you can't be complacent as the general said. but with all those things we've done a nice job in our industry,
we need to continue to keep it up. sarah, you're an interesting example of this. sarah, is a graduate of our program, and you also moved your family recently as well. tell us a little bit how has impacted you in your development? >> i think rotations in particular have been critical to my development. and they gave me the opportunity to work in different domains, with different technologies and in widely varying work environments. and i think every rotation that i took better informed who i am as an engineer and as a leader today. the biggest thing i think it did was make me a really eager learner and kind of fed my own curiosity to try new things, to identify new ways to solve challenges. and now i try to instill that in my teams. i try to give them -- encourage them to be and to stay curious
and to give them space to have ideas, to have new ideas, to try new things and apply their own diverse experiences. >> that's great. the diversity of our work force gives us on edge in cyber. what does that mean to us, to you? why is diversity so important in the cyber work force and to solve the cyber challenge? >> sure. so for every facet of our lives we are all now, all of us, expedes to an increased cyber threat. and that's the case in all of our business areas as well. and so having difficult problems to solve that are ever changing requires us to have lots of folks who have different views on how to solve a problem. and the way we get that is folks with different experiences, different interests, different
histories, different educations coming together ain teams to solve problems. and at northrop we learned that those teams are more effective not only at problem solving but also problem prevention. so we look at that kind of diversity across our team set, and we do that again with our partnerships. another one of those is those first and honors only program for cyber at university of maryland college park, the asus problem. and also we have a callershscho getting more women and other groups. another thing we're doing is to open our view about who can be a cyber professional. so we're focused on students and i mentioned lots of ways we're doing that, but we're also focused on people who are interested in changing their
careers. we have a training program to allow some of that education to happen inside the company as well as supporting education outside the company. folks who might even want to return to the workplace who are no longer working and want to become cyber professionals, we need all hands on deck and we're happy to take all hands wherever they come. so for us it's a wide range view of where we get cyber professionals for the future. >> with the time remaining, which is about three minutes for us, what can we all do more or better to ensure that we're creating and sustaining a work force able to defend the nation in cyberspace today and into the future? >> well, the good news is for people who have these skills, there's immense opportunity. so for the students who are listening to this and maybe for the parents who are out there thinking about their kids' future, there's great opportunity here. get informed and understand what is out there in terms of
changing even at the middle school years it's important. but collectively there's a lot we need to do as employers to get ready to improve the supply. >> and as a company we are only one, and we need companies all over this industry and others. we need government, we need academia, all to partner together to share ideas about how we solve the gap of the need of the workforce we need in the future. and the events like today are a fine example, but we need to do more. we need to do more in a rapid way. one of the things we need to collectively do is determine how we can bring in people from every path into the cyber profession, from students to like i said people who want to change career and people who want to come back to a career in the cyber work world. when we do that, we will address
that gap. and if we couple that with technology development that allows us to create and serve more missions more rapidly without having to exponentially grow the team to do it, those two things coming together will allow us to be successful. and to be successful in a way that we can sustain our cyber security superiority as a nation. >> thank you forgyning joining today to talk about how we can all partner together to continue improving on the workforce cyber talent. thanks. >> thank you. [ applause ]
>> returning to the stage to have a conversation with dr. steven walker who's the director of darpa. he has been darpa's director for the last year. before that he was acting director and was deputy director i think since 2012, so has been in the darpa operations now for a long time. darpa is i'm sure as everybody in the audience knows is our amazing government ideas laboratory. we credit it with inventing the internet. sorry al gore, but it was really an awful lot of other amazing technology achievements. so i want to begin by asking you to talk about this amazing institution that you run and
whether it is adapting enough to the ways the world has changed. since darpa and the internet created a new world in which darpa's old mission doesn't fit right, people sometimes say. the private sector now is so dominant, so quick, cutting edge science and technology used to be in the government. now it's really outside. so start us off by talking about how in this very different world you want to manage and director darpa. >> thanks for having me. darpa is actually 60 years old this year, and we celebrated that over the past year. had a big conference last september. darpa when it was created was all about preventing te technological surprised. it was created out of the
sputnik era, and we still look at that as our maine charter to prevent technological vise. and one of the ways we understand that best is by creating technological surprise for the united states. that mission hasn't changed and i still think we're pursuing it robustly. the mission really of darpa is to create break through technologies and capabilities for our national security. we are focused on national security. we're a department agency in the department of defense. so you're right. early on we focused on the cold war, very prominent programs in nuclear detection, moved into developing things like the first stealth aircraft in the late '70s. you mentioned the internet in the late '60s. so we worked on certainly defense problems all along the
way during the last decade of iraq and afghanistan. we may have gotten a bit too focused on the near term, i think. but obviously our war fighters our men and women were enharms way so i think that was appropriate. but after iraq, after afghanistan we sort of looked up and out again, i think, and under arthur's tenure and my own as deputy we started focusing on what are the tech races we need to win again. darpa i think better than any other organization in the government bridges the gap between the commercial sector and the private sector and the defense sector. we bring in people from industry, from universities, other government agencies and we have them work at darpa for a term appointment, usually three to five years.
so we're bringing in new people all the time with new ideas. so i think that's one of the reasons why we're at the leading edge of technology and we're able to adapt to the new problems out there and where is technology leading us to opportunities to solve them. >> so i love your comment that your job is to avoid our government being surprised and the best way to do that is by creating surprises yourselves. so i want to ask you to surprise us. i want to ask you to tell us a couple of technological areas that you might not be thinking about where you think some big things are ahead. >> well, certainly. i can't tell you everything, but i will tell you i will focus on a few areas. one of the tech races we need to win in the 21st century. you talked to general dunford just a little bit ago about ai.
ai is one of those areas we need to win. and i believe today we are still in the lead. certainly in the foundations of artificial intelligence merchandi darpa has had a long history, about 50 years of investing in artificial intelligence. some of the first legislation that came out was some of darpa's work. of course in the last decade we focused on the self-driving cars. the self-driving cars we did out in the desert and some of those have come to fruition. so we've had a lot of history in investing in it. when we think about ai and what's relevant today we think about three waves of ai, three generations. it first being very rules based artificial intelligence. you can think of turboytax,
rules based if you do this, it's pretty simple. the second is what folks talk about today is machine learning. so machines winning games like go and being able to do better than humans at recognizing images. this is what people refer to as machine learning. it is being applied today by the commercial sector and also the defense sector. where darpa's really headed and where we want to win the race is what we call third wave ai, which is really looking at how to give machines the ability to understand say what they're looking at or their environment, giving them contextual reason to do that. the machine would never understand, hey, maybe you can put that cat inside the suitcase. it's smaller than the suitcase. they wouldn't understand, you
know, that you don't really want to do that. but humans understand that, you know, instinctively. so how do you give machines that sort of common sense is sort of the next place darpa's headed. it's very foundational, very much a research activity. but it's going to be critical if we really want machines to be partners to the humans and not just tools, which is sort of what they are today. >> so if you could develop the machine version of common sense i hope the machines will share it with us. we could use a little more. >> i asked the program manager can you do this for humans. >> so there are some very smart people, steven hawking was one of them, who when they look at this prospect of generalized ai, the third wave as you were putting it, say there's enormous danger to humanity in this prospect. and i just would ask you to
respond to that. you obviously don't believe that. you're not afraid of it. you're actually wanting to kind of push us into it. but what about the fear factor that so many people express? >> sure. well, at least in the defense department today we don't see machines doing anything by themselves. we're focused on human-machine partnership, human-machine symbiosis we call it. how to make machines smarter, i think general dunford said it, how to give the human more time to make that decision. because time and speed in warfare is critical. and so given what we know about where ai is and the fragility really of ai today even in machine learning, it's still a very fragile capability. it's call machine learning but it's really machine trained. these machines are trained on large data sets.
if you get outside that data set the machine usually fails pretty badly. and so i think we're a long way off from a generalized ai even in the third wave in what we're pursuing. so it's not one of those things that keeps me up at night as much as say biology. >> we'll come to biology in a minute, but just to ask you about what we were discussing with general dunford, the chinese threat, if you will, of dominance in this amazing new area, i've heard it said that china is the opec of data. that because chinese government captures everything that human beings do, every time they move, every time they buy anything, every time they say anything, communicate anything, that data is being captured. and so there's this vast reserve
of structured data for machines to learn on. and our ai companies as brilliant as they are and darpa, as brilliant as you are, don't have that same resource of structured data that's available to you, to machines to learn on. so people argue we are in a race that we're going to lose. because the other guy just has the raw material for the machine learning part of this that we will never hope to match. how would you answer that? >> i would answer it this way. we have programs in place to not require so much data. so we have a program called learning with less labels, which actually is focused on, and this is really from a military standpoint. the military doesn't have as much data as the commercial sector about what's going on in the environment, the military
environment. so can we learn, can we help a machine learn, can we train a machine with less data, one of the goals of the programs we're pursuing. another is because machine learning is so fragile and requires so much data we want to make sure that when we get an answer from a machine we understand why the machine came up with that answer. and right now ai is very much a black box. you get an answer, you might get a probability that it's 85% sure that it's the right answer. you don't get much more than that. if we're going to turn humans and machines into a partnership we need the computer to explain to the human how it came up with that answer. and so a program called explain ais is focused on that. we're trying to deal with this data issue, but you're right china collects a lot of data on
its citizens and more than we do, so they will have an advantage probably at least in the near term on their data sets and what they're using them for. >> and just briefly, i've heard proposals that if the united states is going to be competitive, we need to find a way for our ai companies, google, amazon, microsoft, go down the list, to be able to share in some way appropriately anonmized data so they're in the same competitive ballpark as the chinese. take relaxation on trust rules, all sorts of things. is that a good idea you think or is that basically a waste of time? you've talked about alternative ways of dealing with the problem. >> i think it's a good idea as long as you can anonmize the data set so you're not focused on particular people.
but if we had access to data that you couldn't actually go back to the individual, i think it would certainly help all of our capabilities in this space. >> another technology that is of interest to me but this audience probably doesn't know dr. walker actually headed up air force research on for a time is hypersonics. and i'd love for you just to explain to the audience what hypersonic technology is all about. and its said that this is an area where we really are behind, that the russians and chinese have stolen a march on us, have been out there building these hypersonic systems or prototypes. what do you think about that? are we behind? is this a world changing military technology? give us the hypersonics 101. >> hypersonics is flying five times the speed of sound or more. so it's a technology that
enables not only speed because you can fly faster but with speed comes range. so if you think about the pacific theater and the ranges involved in the pacific, especially with a pure competitor like china, you know, standoff is important. and so hypersonics gives you that standoff capability potentially. we have been the leaders in hypersonic technology. i think in some areas we still are. however, it's been widely publicized in the press that our peer competitors, china and russia, are both pursuing the technology with great haste and in some places probably from a capability standpoint are ahead. and they are motivated to turn it into a capability more so than we have been because they want to have a capability where
they can certainly beat our defenses. and we have not been focused from a defensive standpoint on countering hypersonics in this country. >> what would be the defense against an object moving that fast? >> it's hard. and that's one of the reasons why they're interested in it. we -- there aren't a lot of good options, but certainly if you're going to defend against something like that, you've got to see it. you've got to be able to sense it. and that may require some improvements in our sensing capability, which we're focused on now with some of the work looking at a new space architecture potentially. but seeing it and then being able to hit it kinetically most likely is difficult. and that's why they're interested in it, and that's why we're pursuing our own programs.
but our -- where we've been ahead from a technology standpoint turning it into that capability that we want to go off and build has not been a priority, but it's becoming more so i would say in the last couple of years under this administration. i've realized the threat and some money is being put towards it. >> since we're talking about these really cool out of the movies technologies what about lasers and beam weapons? how far away are those? it was always thought they were just too heavy, too difficult to deploy. are those problems being solved, and is that a technology that's just around the next corner? and if so, what difference would it make in this space? >> i've never met a four star general that didn't want a laser on his airplane. and it would be really neat, and that would be a really neat technology and capability. as you mentioned, weight is an
issue. and a lot of the laser development focuses on the front end, the laser piece. and all this power generation and cooling all this adds up in terms of weight. sole i think an airplane would be sort of the last application of it. but i think we're very close to having a ship based capability. the navy's done some demonstrations in that space, i think ground capability. lasers from the ground, from trucks are being worked pretty heavily. and those will be closer than a laser on an airplane. but darpa for the last decade or so has been investing heavily in something called solid state fiber laser technology, and the idea is you can have 1, 2 kilowatt fibers and bundle them together to produce a high powered lasers.
and so we're making pretty good progress on solid state fiber laser technology, being able to look at, you know, tens of kilowatts. >> and in theory if you could make this work you really would have a beam like in the movies that can zap incoming plane or other object, also obviously would have potential powers against anything in space presumably. >> yes. and, you know, it's always easier in the movies. but the -- certainly you can envision capabilities like that. and i think we'll be seeing some of that over the next decade. >> you mentioned earlier the question of bio research, and that's on everybody's minds after the startling news from china, the chinese scientist. still not clear to me how rogue
he was, how much supervision he had but creating new life in a test tube, crossing a frontier that is just so important and scary. as you look at the way in which biological sciences are combining with information sciences and, you know, new technologies, tell us the things that interest darpa the most in this area. where are you focusing your bio research? >> sure. one of my focuses for darpa and where i want to take the agency is to defend the homeland against existential threat. that's the first priority we're focused on now, and under that is where i sort of stick the biaelg piece because i see it as a real threat. natural pandemics or manmade.
and so we are focused on bio mitigation and sensing technologies of all types. this gene editing technology, crisper cast 9 which has become available has so much potential for good in curing disease. and if it's used properly. but part of darpa is figuring out how the technology works, right? so we're not surprised. so we created a program called safe genes about two years ago now. and the whole focus of the program was to understand how this gene editing, crisper cast 9 and technology worked so we're not surprised. but also how would you be able to turn it off, how would you be able to reverse it if something got out of control or it was used for nefarious purposes. this is research based
fundamental type program and it's out in the open working with universities on this. but having some success in how to use a technique like crisper cast 9 with targeting affects if you're trying to do one edit, having some success there, and having some success at looking at proteins and other ways to prevent a gene edit from happening. one example of what we're doing in the bio space i think is really important and especially, you know, technologies can be used for good and evil. and not everybody shares the ethical values that we have in this country. and so we need to be prepared and that's what we're trying to do. >> and just curious whether you're looking at sensing technologies that among other things could detect pandemics earlier so that we could deal with them more effectively. >> we've had several problems,
one is called prometheus, looking at when people get sick so you can put prevention mechanisms in place so disease is not spread. another program in this area called p3, which is trying to gep develop a vaccine for an unknown virus that is detected, trying to develop a vaccine that could help 20,000 people or more so at scale at 60 days or less. which is right now impossible. usually takes about 18 months for a vaccine in this country to be developed and proven at the earliest. and so very darpa-like program trying to do the impossible here, but some program managers making some very good strides. >> that's extraordinary. i have a daughter who was a fellow in infectious diseases at john hopkins. and as soon as we leave i want to call my daughter and tell her
she's on the way. >> does she want to be a program manager? >> ask her. just a final question that fascinates me and maybe this is a "the washington post" focus, but i worry about a world in which people are able not simply to create fake news as we saw the russians had did so aggressively in our last election, but create fake events, create digital representations of audio and video that appear to be real but aren't. and we can see, just go online and you'll see examples of this so-called deep fake technology. and i wonder whether darpa has any ideas, whether you're no
focusing any attention on what i would call the prominence of facts, knowing they're real facts, not fake facts. knowing a photo, a voice, a piece of data is real and not created. is that something you're working on? >> it is. and this is something we started back in 2014, actually. so before the russian interference and all the rest. you know, this idea of some people refer to it as gray war fire, hybrid war fire, this less than outright conflict type of warfare, is something that's really challenging us because in an open free society like ours the first step in trying to counter something like that i think is to say what is the truth? what are the facts? and so back in 2014 darpa started a program, it's called
metaphor. and the whole purpose of the program was to look at images on the internet and video. not sure about audio, but definitely pictures and video. and develop tools where we could actually use all these pictures and the video and determine whether they had been tampered with or not. and the program has made a lot of progress in being able to detect things that have been placed in the picture after the fact. and then video, it turns out when you compress a video and uncompress a video, if you've made changes to it, we've developed tools now that can detect those additions, those changes to a video and help a human user, human analyst even pinpoint where in the video the changes have been made. so getting to your point, we are trying to get to a place where we can determine what the real facts are and what's fiction at
least in images and video, on the internet. and the companies as you might imagine out in silicon valley are pretty interested. >> that's exciting, important for my business. i have to say we have to wrap up and dr. walker has to get to another event -- this reinforces my impression that darpa's just about the coolest place in u.s. government. when i grow up i really want to get a job at darpa. unfortunately, that's all the time we have for what's been a wonderful afternoon of discussion. if you want to watch highlights from conversations that we've had, i invite people to visit washingtenpostlive.com. please join me in thanking dr. walker.
>> government spending runs out tomorrow, but earlier today the house and senate passed a two week extension funding the government through friday, december 21st. seven spending bills need to be addressed to avoid that partial shutdown in two weeks. homeland security, agriculture and transportation are among the departments that could be affected. another issue to be resolved is funding for president trump's u.s.-mexico border wall. the president has requested congress to provide $5 billion for the wall, which democrats do not support. live coverage of the house on c-span and the senate on c-span 2. c-span's washing journal,
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